Hayes delivers key blow in Notre Dame baseball team's win vs. Jackson in SEMO Conference tourney semifinal

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Notre Dame baseball team's approach to hitting against Jackson starter Bobby Clark in the SEMO Conference tournament semifinal Saturday was brief.

"We knew he didn't have a very good curveball, so we just tried to capitalize and hit fastballs," Notre Dame third baseman Eric Hayes said.

The Bulldogs were able to turn that simple plan into a 9-3 victory over the Indians.

"We talk about that all the time -- try to find out what you can work with, what their weakness is, and I think that was pretty evident today," Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett said. "He was really short with the breaking ball and really struggling with it. When we saw him for an inning or two last time, we really thought that with him, so it was one thing we talked about."

Clark walked the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the first inning before Notre Dame's Jonathan Lynch pushed a bunt past the mound to load the bases.

"He just didn't have very good control and put people on," Jackson coach Tatum Kitchen said. "He couldn't get any offspeed stuff over, and they had one good hit there and of course that cleared the bases and made it 3-0. I think from that point on some of our guys put their heads down and just kind of laid down, so it was not a very good performance at all."

Hayes delivered that one good hit by doubling to center field to clear the bases before later scoring on a fielder's choice to help Notre Dame jump out to a 4-0 lead after one inning. It was a lead that seemed even bigger because wood bats are being used during tournament play.

"You put a four-spot up when you just got done watching a 2-1 game with Kennett and Cape Central, so you're feeling pretty good with four runs and your ace on the mound," Graviett said.

Cody Heisserer got the complete-game win for Notre Dame. The junior gave up three runs on seven hits. He struck out five and walked two.

"I felt good," Heisserer said. "I had command of my fastball, hitting my spots. I just left a couple of them up, and they hit it. That's how they scored their runs."

Heisserer, who also was 2 for 3 with three RBIs at the plate, took the loss when Jackson defeated Notre Dame 4-1 earlier this season.

"When we lost to them, I was leaving the ball up and not hitting spots, not staying closed," he said. "I just didn't have all my stuff, and today it was the opposite."

Jackson placed at least one runner on base in every inning except the first but scored in just two innings. Alex Bolen doubled home a run in the fourth and the Indians added two more runs in the seventh.

"We've struggled all year with hitting with men on," Kitchen said. "I don't know about this game, but it seems like every game we outhit our opponent. But it doesn't reflect whether we win or lose because it seems like we just struggle hitting with men on. I don't know why.

"That's kind of been our M-O, especially in losses. We hit the ball OK. We even hit the ball hard right at people. We just couldn't, for whatever reason, get anything when we needed it."

Jackson dropped to 9-5 this season and will face Central in the third-place game at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Capaha Field.

Notre Dame, the tournament's No. 2 seed, improved to 11-2 and advanced to face top-seed Kennett in the championship at 7 p.m. Monday at Capaha Field.

The Bulldogs defeated Kennett, which is also in their district, 4-0 earlier this season behind Heisserer.

"Last time it took a great performance from Cody, which he won't be available to do that," Graviett said "They're the favorites this time, so we'll come out there and try to compete with them. Hopefully this will be two of three meetings. We'll have a lot of work to do in our district, but it could be a setup. I think it's going to be a fun night of baseball."

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WP -- Cody Heisserer. LP -- Bobby Clark. HR -- Nathan Beussink (N), Jessie Schott (N). 2B -- Derek Landewee (N), Eric Hayes (N), Heisserer (N), Clark (J), Alex Bolen (J), Adam James (J). Multiple hits -- Notre Dame: Landewee 2-3, Jonathan Lynch 2-3, Heisserer 2-3; Jackson: Laban Petzoldt 2-3, Bolen 2-3. Records -- Notre Dame 11-2, Jackson 9-5.

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